30 July 2014

The studio

Of course, you know by now that I don't actually have a studio.  A two bedroom condo filled with five is not exactly spacious living.  However, we make do just fine.  Our dining room table usually doubles as the studio.  And in our studio, plenty of projects come along.  

As of right now, I am working on finishing some cotton dishcloths.  Simple things.  Calm colours.

I finished some beeswax lip balm this morning - that was a kitchen studio affair.  Also completed is the gardeners hand salve I've been developing.  I'm pretty happy with this last batch.  I love the fresh lemon scent.  My hands get so dry in the winter, especially with little ones and all the hand-washing they involve.  I can't tell you how happy am I now to have a tin or two of these handy.  Best part - the ingredients came from my kitchen!  You can literally eat these.  Not that they would taste very good.  But still.

The kids wanted to craft this morning, so we got out our felt box and made oysters.  That was M's idea.  I don't know why he's fixated on oysters.  He was especially adamant that they open and close.  Then we did some research on oysters and came across a neat video on how they are farmed for pearls.  Well then.  The kids had to have a pearl in their shells after that.  Thankfully, this kept them busy for a bit afterwards, allowing me to finish a pebble lion for a blog swap I'm participating in.  Yesterday I finished these other little critters.  I won't post pictures of the lion until later on.  He's not dry yet anyhow.  

And of course, we have lots of blueberries coming our way.  I'm hoping to make a batch of jam tonight with these.  It's been tricky with the kids today - too much energy on their part and too little on mine.  I think jam making with antsy kiddies is more than I can handle.  I'll wait til my better half gets home to help corral them.  Maybe take them swimming...

25 July 2014

Slow down

Obviously I haven't been around here very much this past while.  We are enjoying the summer and all its richness.  Each season has a flavour.  The kids especially love this time when they can run around, get dirty, stay up late and just be kids!  

Not many projects getting finished these days, but still plugging away.  My favourites all still involve yarn.  :)  I find that if I don't make time for myself, even if just a little time, the whole family suffers.  Crocheting is my go-to strategy.  I can pick it up during spare minutes throughout the day, still be available, have a little quiet time and refocus.  I don't usually spend hours in a row with my needles, unless the kids are asleep and I have some leisure time.  (Sometimes this involves making time by putting aside all thoughts of whatever work needs to be done!)  

Art is another way I recharge.  Most of my artwork is done alongside my kids.  It is relaxing to draw, to paint, to get into art period.  I enjoy it, they enjoy it and we all benefit from that quiet time needed to concentrate on a particular piece.  

I don't know that I accomplish any more than mostly everyone else.  I think everyone just chooses differently what takes priority.  For me, today dishes and laundry took the cake, tomorrow it'll be beeswax hand cream.  (Fingers crossed!)  

Last Thursday, we spent the whole morning at the park.  We made a picnic of it.  The kids needed it, I needed it.  Being cooped up in a small space with eight people can get a little crazy.  Our whole day was beautiful because I sacrificed that time.  

And it is a sacrifice for me.  When I think of all the work that needs doing, I quail inside.  So much work and so little time.  And then one of the kids comes along and asks for help building a fire station of lego, or a leash for a stuffed dog.  What to do!?  I have to constantly remind myself to let go.  (Hello, theme of my life!)  Let go of the laundry.  Let go of the tantrums.  Let go of the messy room.  

Ironically, I feel happier when I let go despite the work not getting done.  

On Saturday we went to Albion Hills Conservation Area.  It ended up raining a bit while we were there, but I don't regret going at all.  It was beautiful.  We went paddle-boating, played with the kids on the playground and soaked up the beauty around us.  

Yesterday, Grandma and Grandpa took us all out to Ripley's Aquarium and Blackcreek Pioneer Village.  We spent the morning wrapping our minds around God's incredible aquatic handiwork.  In the afternoon/evening, we slowed down noticeable as we walked through the village.  I dream about returning to those times!

I think that's another theme in my life - slowing down.  I need to slow down.  Need to slow things down around me.  I get frazzled and snappish if I feel rushed or stressed out.  (Most of the whole noise issue for me boils down to that.)  Crocheting, art, nature, gardening, walking, they all encapsulate an internal calmness.  It's like a mental breath of fresh air before plunging back into the foray.

Here's to hoping you too have many such slow moments in the coming week.  Happy weekend!

16 July 2014

A memorable day

Yesterday was our anniversary.  We hadn't made plans, you understand, because we were spending the afternoon and evening over at D's brother's place.  I was to take the young ladies out for a movie - Belle.  (Fabulous movie!  I highly recommend it!)  Right before it was time to leave, we discovered a flood in our bathroom.  Not only in our bathroom, but it had leaked under the floor boards into the bedroom, the laundry room, the hallway and some of the living room.  Wow.  Happy anniversary honey.  

Clean up was a team affair.  We plunked the kids in front of the screen to watch cartoons, baby in crib for cat nap, and got to work.  While hardly the most romantic way I can imagine spending our seventh year together... there was something in rolling up our pant hems together and mopping up that filled me with peace and gratitude.  

So here it is D.  I am thankful for you in so many ways.  Thankful that it was me you asked seven years ago.  (Ok, technically eight.)  Thankful that you are willing to roll up your sleeve alongside me.  Thankful that you are stronger than I in so many ways so that when I need to lean on someone, you are there.  Thankful that you can give me a large dose of perspective exactly when I need it.  Thankful that your heart is big enough to truly love me - bad hair days and all.  Thankful to see how much you love our babies.   Thankful that the rock you build on daily is the Chief Cornerstone.  

I love you.  May we have many more such days together  - of toil and of joy.  

14 July 2014

In the garden

We are still enjoying our family being here and all the chaos required to squeeze three extra people into a condo and our lives in general!  Yes, we are truly loving it.  It does get tricky to snatch away time to write here.  I think it's high time though for a little garden update.  By now we are seeing lots of green, just like everyone else!  Every pot proudly displaying its contents - now fully recognizable.  That is, except for the two that were replanted two weeks ago with spinach and parsley.  But they are getting there.  We have a large green pepper now and several smaller ones budding out.  That is exciting to watch.  The tomatoes are green and gorgeous.  We lost count after ten.  That's for the first plant.  The second is coming along beautifully, and thankfully a little smaller.  (We couldn't keep up with the harvest if they all happened at once!)  

What's more than just the bounty awaiting is that the balcony is another space for the children to be.  It is inviting, homey, beautiful.  They play out there now.  They water the plants sometimes.  Sometimes they count vegetables.  Sometimes they show off which is which to a visitor.   Sometimes they just meander around the pots.  It's not a big space our balcony, but we've made it part of our home.  And right now, when the sun is shining or the stars twinkling, it's the best place in the home to be.

Here's to hoping that you can snatch away a few moments for some quiet time too.

9 July 2014

A rather disjointed update

I wonder if it's true for everyone, but the more children you have, the more you let go.  In most ways.  Let go of the laundry, let go of the need to have things tidy all the time, let go of control.  Things are so much easier to control with one child.  Less with two.  Impossible with three.  I can't imagine how it is with four.  Or seven.  (God bless my parents!)

I am learning to let go every day.  It's a struggle for me.  Oh yes.  I love control.  I remember reading many times how children react around ages 2-3 because they want control but lack the skills to express it.  I feel like that kid.  I want control, I NEED it!  Give it to me!  Then reality hits.  I'm supposed to be the mature one - the grown up - the model.  *sigh*  It's hard to be a grown up sometimes.  And to think, I used to be so eager for this time when I was little.  

My children are growing up so fast.  Milestones are flying by.  I want to shut my eyes and ears to slow things down, but then I'd just miss things going by.  M is swimming by himself as of today.  TODAY!  Not a few months ago he wouldn't let go of his dad.  We don't even go swimming every day.  Suddenly, two days ago, he was striking out on his own with the water wings.  Today, he took them off.  It was huge for all of us!  And little J?  She is swimming with those water wings all by herself and loving it.  She practices floating on her back.  She copies M by ducking her face in the water.  What little water babies they are.  And us parents are loving every moment!  (Yes, I am very much looking forward to the time when I don't have to be within an arm's snatch away at all times for both!)  

We have finished with the strawberry jam.  That is, for now.  We went to Whittamore's farm in Markham to pick sweet peas and strawberries last week.  It was great.  We used most of the strawberries for jam.  I did set some aside for strawberry ice cream.  It was a real treat.  The most delicious ice cream has to be the homemade kind.  We don't have an ice cream maker, so we did it the older-fashioned way.  Kept on stirring periodically until it was all nice and firm.  Like I said, nothing beats this ice cream.  (At least in my books!)

M is finished with school for the summer, but we are still learning so much together.  Our balcony garden provides so many ways for them to learn about plants.  They can recognize radish shoots by the heart-shaped leaves, or tomatoes by the smell.  Mint is a dead-giveaway.  Same with onions and chives.  We have a bell pepper on one of the stalks already growing rounder every day.  And our parsley needs a haircut.  They know most of the these from being with me in the kitchen.  

M has also been after me to make things.  Not simple things.  Oh no.  This boy is sophisticated.  He wanted a canon.  A canon that actually shoots.  Riiiight.  Did I mention I didn't study engineering?  Where in heavens name did the boy come up with these ideas?!  Anyhow, that is what the primitive tube is in the picture above.  It's actually a piece cut off from the tube of a bubble wand.  By some miracle, we found a way to make it shoot using a good old rubber band, some pins and a little desperation.  (That would be me.)  I don't care how ugly it looks.  The boy is happy with it.  And so am I.  Just don't get in the way of his shot.  Aluminum paper balls may not look dangerous, but they pack a punch on more sensitive parts - like eyes.  Just saying.  

After writing all this, it seems a little funny to mention that I feel a little burnt out for some reason.  Maybe we're doing too much?  It could be because little miss S has started waking up during the night again.  Teething is such a miserable time for her.  (And me.)  It might be because I'm going to be bed late.  Or perhaps it's because I haven't been able to find much time to quiet down and do something calming.  Most of the time, I feel stretched.  I feel tired.  It's more of an inside tiredness though.  

I have finished one or two crocheting projects I left on the side.  Small things.  And today I started a blanket.  I need to have a mindless project waiting for when I'm too drained to count stitches or pay attention to what I'm doing.  I wish life could be like that sometimes.  Just hit autopilot and away things go, oh so nicely on their own.   And that would leave me more time to crochet.  And paint.  And just generally make things.  A very agreeable thought all in all.  

Speaking of agreeable thoughts, I just remembered that I found the most amazing recipe for balsamic vinaigrette!  I found it here.  You must try it.  I hate using superlatives all the time, but it is honestly the best dressing I've ever had.  I feel like eating salads all day with this stuff.  No diet necessary!  :)  Incidentally, our lettuce is ready for picking.  Can't wait for the tomatoes!

I love summer.

1 July 2014

Just one

I was in the kitchen finishing some ironing with my back to the kids table.  When I turned around, this is what I saw...

Lots going on here right now.  Our dear ones from Lebanon visiting for the month, strawberry season in full swing, and projects being slowly finished.  I won't talk about it all right now.  What I want to talk about is my youngest.  Today she turns one!  

She has been with us for a whole year now.  What a little ray of sunshine she is.   I can't imagine life without her.  Her little toothy smile- almost six teeth.  Her tottering steps.  Her belly giggles when she and J play their little games.  The way she coos, barks, meows or growls.  (All legitimate words in her world.)  How she points at everything - what she wants you to give her or where she wants you to take her if she's in your arms.  She does not take no for an answer this one.  She knows what she wants and often how to get it.  (Queue the pout-y faces and fake crying.)  With her little personality unfolding, it's so much fun to see how she will develop day-to-day.

Happy birthday little one.  And happy Canada day too!

26 June 2014

Homemade beeswax deodorant

The other day I made some deodorant.  I had bought some shea butter last week for that purpose and I finally got around to using it.  It was so easy and quick to make this stuff.  Took me under 10 minutes and most of the time is spent melting the beeswax.

Anyhow, it was a baking soda based recipe, so I am a little anxious as to the overall result.  A little research brought to light the fact that baking soda, being quite alkaline, sometimes irritates the skin when combined with the slightly more acidic pH of sweat.  I lowered the amount of baking soda, so we'll see how that turns out.  

In the meantime, I am simply tickled with these little jars lining my counter!  I actually made a batch, then had to redo it because it didn't solidify properly (think slushy).  The solution came in the form of beeswax.  I don't have beeswax pellets lying around my home, but I did have an old candle that had broken from Palm Sunday last year.  I couldn't have imagined a more perfect use for it and I'm so glad I remembered it!  (And I am so envious of all those beekeepers out there who have almost unlimited access to the stuff!)  

I plan on giving a couple jars to some family members as gifts.   I'll post back here if there are any reactions reported from the baking soda.  Hopefully none!  :)  


PS - I am positive you could just remove the baking soda from the recipe, but the addition of makes the concoction more heavy-duty.  Also, I'm thinking of adding tea tree oil with/instead of the lemon essential oil.  It has antimicrobial, antifungal, antiseptic, and antiviral properties - which are all fantastic qualities in a deodorant!


3.5 Tbsp coconut oil
2 Tbsp shea butter
1.5 Tbsp beeswax
2 Tbsp arrowroot powder
1 tsp baking soda
lemon essential oil (optional)

Heat a small pot of water on the stove.  When boiling, turn heat to low.  Add coconut oil, shea butter and beeswax to a 250 mL mason jar and place jar in hot water.  Swirl occasionally until everything has melted.  (The beeswax will take the longest.)  Add cornstarch and baking soda.  Stir well to combine and let rest for about 2 minutes in hot water bath.  Add desired amount of lemon essential oil (I can't remember how many drops I used, but it was probably around 20), stir well and remove from heat.  Pour into jars or containers and let harden.  (I gave it another stir for good measure while it was still pudding-like.)